Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Shark Attacks Swimmer in Pacific off of Orange County

Woman Sent to Hospital No Official Confirmation

 

Signs warning swimmers that a shark was sighted in Newport Beach

Officials have shut down 3 miles of Corona Del Mar State Beach in Orange County, after a young woman was bitten by an animal on her upper torso and shoulder.The woman was rushed to an OC hospital, with injuries consistent with a shark attack.

She had been swimming about 100 yards off Newport Beach, when she was apparently attacked or bitten. Witnesses say she was bleeding heavily.

Authorities don't know if it was a shark attack, as opposed to some other animal or some other cause. Nevertheless, County Lifeguards closed the 3 mile long State Beach, crowded with Memorial weekend beachgoers this afternoon.

"There was a bunch of helicopters and surf boats," said Hope Warrick. "When they told us to get out of the water, we all got out of the water really quickly," said Ben Haight who was on the beach at the time.

"The animal was big and gray, we assumed it was a shark," said beachgoes Elizabeth Warrick, who believes she saw a shark or other large gray fish.

Helicopters and boats have searched the area, but did not see any sharks. "We will keep the beach closed until we are sure there is no threat to the public", said a Rob Williams, a Newport Beach police officer. Authorities will re-evaluate their decision Monday morning.

As the summer beach season opens in the United States, at least one expert is predicting an increase in shark attacks around the world this year that will surpass last year's record number.

A dead shark washed up near Newport Beach in February.

"We should have more bites this year than last," George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida, said in an interview shortly before the Memorial Day holiday weekend that signals the unofficial start of America's summer vacation - and beach - season.

In 2015, there were 98 shark attacks, including six fatalities, according to Burgess.

Why the increased bloodshed? Shark populations are slowly recovering from historic lows in the 1990s, the world's human population has grown and rising temperatures are leading more people to go swimming, Burgess said.

Still, the university notes that fatal shark attacks, while undeniably graphic, are so infrequent that beachgoers face a higher risk of being killed by sand collapsing as the result of over achieving sand castle builders.

 

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